In the age of constantly being "connected," statistics show that loneliness levels have more than doubled since the 1980's. Loneliness affects us mentally, emotionally and physically; in other words, life expectancy declines as loneliness rates increase. These statistics confirm that humans NEED real, meaningful connection, not only to thrive, but, most importantly, to survive.
So why, if we're constantly connected, are we so lonely?
Turns out, there is a big difference between virtual and face-to-face connection. You may be saying, of course there is, but the distinction can be fuzzy and a slippery slope, especially as it becomes increasingly easy to be isolated:
We're working remotely, ordering EVERYTHING on-demand, living alone, staying glued to our phones, Netflix binging, etc… all activities can evoke a full range of emotions and make us feel connected.
On average, we spend almost 2 hours on social media each day and we’re constantly adjusting our news feeds and social networks to serve our business and personal needs. From humor, vulnerability, current events, politics and career/life transitions, some posts touch our hearts in big ways: whether it’s laughing out loud or tears, we can feel a full range of emotions. We can feel connected to people who we wouldn’t get to know otherwise. We get to say, “OMG, me too” or “wow, that’s cool” and the world can become a much smaller, hopeful, more inspiring place.
Social media creates an incredible opportunity to develop deeper face-to-face connection, but we just need to take that next step. We need the human touch and physical presence. Human touch releases oxytocin, "the love hormone that underlies trust. It is also an antidote to depressive feelings."
What are some ways we can make small changes to ensure we're getting the deeper human connection we need?
1. Social media is a GREAT way to meet like-minded people
- Have you ever been in a situation where you're out and about and you see someone you "know" from Facebook or Instagram? You feel like you know everything about this person's wedding, meals, career and travel adventures, and it honestly just feels weird. You would totally feel like a creep if you said hi.
- Truth is, if someone makes his/her accounts public or accepts your request to connect, they are opening their social media world to you. Whether it’s a carefully curated gallery of only the happiest, most beautiful life moments, or a dose of real, raw life, more likely than not, that person wants to hear from you! They want feedback, they want to cultivate connection. GO SAY HI! You never know who your next best friend could be?
2. Interact with the people around you
- Say hello, make eye contact with your bus driver, your ride share driver/companion, the grocery store checkout person, the barista, etc… These little interactions count! Even a smile can make someone’s day. Notice how you feel after this interaction – it can feel really good!
- If you’re rejected my someone, assume that they’re having a bad day. We tend to interpret rejection as a personal attack, that we did something wrong to deserve the rejection, when it reality, the person was probably so surprised at the kind gesture that he/she didn’t have time to react. Try it, look for the good in people.
3. Work from home or remotely? Join a co-working space.
- Many employers are sponsoring co-working spaces like WeWork or other smaller, local, spaces for their employees. It’s much cheaper than a traditional office and the social/emotional benefits are priceless. Memberships like DeskPass can be as low as $99/month.
We are the leaders of the first social media "connected" generation. Our parents didn’t have the opportunity to model healthy virtual connections, nor explain the difference between face-to-face and virtual communication. We have a responsibility to define that healthy balance for our future. Now, go hug someone!
Creating a career you love is a perfect way to add more connection to your life. Let's start the process with a complimentary clarity session.